INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning a 4% "conditions" payment.
2. The dispute relates to a claim for the application of a 4% Melt Shop "conditions" payment to four electrical team leaders (formerly chargehand electricians). This payment has been conceded to craftsmen and operatives who have a Melt Shop involvement. The payment is designed to reflect working conditions in the Melt Shop and is being applied as 3% with effect from March, 1998 and 1% with effect from January, 1999. The Union claims that the electrical team leaders concerned work in the Melt Shop and have the same conditions as other workers there and therefore, should receive the same conditions payment. The Company claim that the electrical team leaders are in receipt of an additional 10% premium over and above that afforded to other chargehands and that this premium takes account of Melt Shop conditions. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on 11th November, 1998. Agreement was not reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 13th of November, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Cork on 10th of February, 1999.
1. In August, 1997, the Company increased the premium associated with the Melt Shop chargehands' position from 10% to 15%. The increase and the conditions attached to it were clearly outlined in correspondence and there was no reference whatsoever attached to conditions payment. In November, 1997 the electrical chargehand's position was redesignated and up-graded to electrical team leader a new 20% premium was agreed, the duties and responsibilities of the job description were drawn up for the position and conditions payment was not mentioned. Out of approximately 18 workers on each shift in the Melt Shop, 17 will receive the conditions payment - the exception being the team leaders.
2. The working conditions in the Melt Shop are the most difficult in the plant and there is no disputing that those conditions justify the payment in this case. The team leaders are entitled to reasonable comfortable working conditions but where this is not possible, as is the case in the Melt Shop, they are entitled like all other workers engaged on the operation, to be compensated in the form of a conditions payment. To exclude them is discriminatory.
3. The 4% conditions payment basic increase, along with the service related lump sum payment should be applied to the electrical team leaders together with the appropriate retrospection.
1. These electrical team leaders have already benefited from, and received, the money for responsibilities/conditions. They are the only employees in the Company on a premium of 20%. The workers will benefit under Partnership 2000 terms, upskilling programme and additional premium to the tune of 42.75% of basic salary during 1997 - 2000. 38.25% of this increase has been applied in 1997/98. The average pay increases in the same period under Partnership 2000 for non-craft workers in the Melt Shop amounts to 18.25%
2. To fill a vacancy for chargehand electrician in March, 1997, the Company, despite advertising on at least two occasions, could not obtain applications from the electricians working in other sections of the plant. In essence they did not want to and were unwilling to work in the Melt Shop section. However, this was not a factor when the premium was increased from 10% to 20% (between August and December, 1997) - an increase of 100%.
3. The Company cannot create a significant divide amongst its workforce in terms of pay structures. There exists, already, significant divides and any further concessions to an 20% differential in the Melt Shop, will result in industrial relations problems within the section, and a succession of follow on claims.
4. The Company has agreed terms and conditions under Partnership 2000 with the Craft Group of Unions until June 2000 and these terms and conditions have been accepted in writing by the Union.
5. The Company is experiencing extreme difficult market conditions presently, the selling price of its products has significantly decreased and despite a breaking even in 1998 the Company is not in a profit making situation. Under the terms of the pay agreement between the Company and the various Unions, the Company is committed to paying increases in excess of £5 million pounds to its employees. This investment by the Company in its employees shows its commitment to addressing the pay issues. The Company cannot afford to enter a spiral of cost increasing claims outside of Partnership 2000.
The Court has given serious consideration to both the written and oral submission made by the parties. The Court notes the difficult position the company were in, when they tried to appoint electrical chargehands to work in the Melt Shop in August 1997, due to the extreme working conditions therein. At this time, in an effort to address the problem, the company reviewed the differential paid and decided to increase it from 10% to 15% above the base rate. When they were faced with a critical situation in the Melt Shop, in December, 1997, they decided to increase the differential by a further 5%, bring the differential up to 20% for the Electrical Team Leaders (their title had changed at this point).
The Court is satisfied that the increases in the differential, bringing it up to 20% above the base rate, took account of the extreme conditions associated with working in the Melt Shop and therefore, does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
2 March, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.